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Young binge drinkers are following example set by parents, says expert

Binge drinking is more likely to be caused by parental example than allowing a teenager a glass of wine with a meal, according to the head of York’s youth offending team.

The comments of Simon Page come after the Government’s chief medical advisor, Sir Liam Donaldson, said under 15s should drink no alcohol whatsoever and allowing them small amounts with meal times was “misguided”.

He said: “The more children get a taste for it, the more likely they are to be heavy drinking adults or binge drinkers later in childhood.”

Sir Liam also said that “a lack of parental supervision, exposing children to drink-fuelled events and failing to engage with them as they grow up are the root causes from which our country’s serious alcohol problem has developed”.

Mr Page agreed. “Our experience is that for most families it’s the attitudes and behaviour that accompanies alcohol that really make a difference,” he said.

“Parents who themselves go out and get regularly and chaotically legless and come back that way, it doesn’t matter how moderately they introduced their children to alcohol.

“It’s like smoking. Children tend to follow the behaviour and attitudes of parents and children are very good at spotting inconsistencies in their parents’ behaviour.”

He said that with the children who begin offending through alcohol, it was noticeable that their parents turned a blind eye to the fact they were drinking.

He also said the claim there was no problem with youth binge drinking in Mediterranean countries, which are considered to have a healthy relationship with alcohol, was also untrue.

Mr Page’s comments were echoed by Sue Stone, who runs alcohol awareness courses in schools and businesses, although she said peer pressure had a greater role to play in whether youngsters boozed.

She said there were two conflicting points of view; firstly, that children should be given no alcohol, and secondly that children should be allowed the occasional glass under parental supervision. But either way could result in binge drinking.

She said: “I think it’s not what goes on in the home but the peer pressure from their mates.”

She said her own personal view was that the price of alcohol should be raised so teenagers were unable to go out and buy three litres of cheap white cider.

And she said she thought the occasional glass of wine at home was unlikely to cause any problems in the long-term.

Drinking problems

IN North Yorkshire, according to Government figures, more than 270 young people aged under-18 were admitted to hospital with alcohol-related conditions between 2004 and 2007.

In York, more than 70 young people were admitted between 2004 and 2007.

Young people are particularly susceptible to disease caused by alcohol, including liver disease, mental health problems, heart disease, bowel, breast, mouth and throat cancer.

Young people who drink too much are also more likely to get into fights, have problems at school, have unprotected sex and get in trouble with the police.

source: York Press

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